Top 10 Remote Start Tips

Whether you buy from us or not, we will answer all of your questions about Remote Starters and give you valuable VEHICLE SPECIFIC INFORMATION that you NEED to know while shopping for a Remote Starter and the installation of it.

1. Warnings & Red Flags

What is the right price? $150 or $500 or ??? These comments are in no particular order but are all VERY important.

If the shop you are calling does not ask you the Year Make and Model of your vehicle, it is probably the wrong price.

If the shop does not ask if your ignition works by turning a key or pushing a button, it is probably not the right price.

If the shop asks you to "Bring in both of your keys for programming purposes", this is probably how your experience will go:

Drop off your vehicle with both keys expecting to pay $150 or $199 type price. Return to pick up your vehicle only to find that there is now an additional cost for a "module" that you needed (see #5) for about $75 more and they then hand you back 1 of your keys. When you ask "where is my other key" their response is "we used it for programming purposes" (see #4) and now you are:
  • Down to only 1 key for your vehicle (which is not a good position to be in if you lose that key)
  • Invested around $150 to $200 in that key being dedicated to your Remote Starter
  • If you go to the Dealership AFTER the install to have a NEW / ANOTHER key made, the key in the module box TYPICALLY loses programming and not your remote start does not work and you have to go back to the dealer again an spend at least ANOTHER $90 to RE-PRORAM that key
  • BUT WAIT! You have to go back to the shop that installed the remote start to get the key out of the box, go to the dealership on your time for reprogramming, go back to have the shop reinstall the key and my guess is they are going to charge you to take the key in and out!
  • This means your $150 deal is about $225 plus tax, plus warranty plus the cost of your key, at least 1 key, which puts your investment up to about $400 to $500 or more and you probably still don't have THE RIGHT REMOTE, KEYLESS ENTRY, A GOOD QUALITY PRODUCT, SOLDERED WIRE CONNECTIONS or a solid labor warranty which means additional costs moving forward.

Big Box Retailers You think you are getting a "Good Buy" and may be Good Stores with a National Presence, but for Remote Starters they are a TRAINING GROUND for the industry. I believe everyone needs to learn somewhere but unfortunately you have to ask the question "DO I WANT THEM TO LEARN ON MY CAR?"

2. Quality of Product

You want a "Best of Class" brand and we use Audiovox, the Prestige Series ( Audiovox is the largest manufacturer of this type of equipment worldwide. We have been using Audiovox primarily for the last 15 years and have had less than 1% issue rate with it. You get the Audiovox Manufacturer Lifetime Warranty on all parts excluding remotes which carry a 1 year warranty. We also offer DEI (Directed Electronics Inc), makers of Viper, Python, Avital and others. These are the Top 2 brands in the world.

3. Quality of Install

We have the most experienced team of installers in the area and we've been installing Remote Starters since they were created 24 years ago. We have been installing automotive alarms and electronics since 1971. We give you a Lifetime Warranty on Labor for all Remote Start and Alarm installations performed in our Mokena Service Center.

Soldered Connections. Ask the question, "how are you connecting the wires on my vehicle?" Soldering the connections is like "welding" the wires together. It is a connection for a lifetime that will not "come apart". This is the single most important part of a Remote Start installation short of a Great Quality Product.
  • Many of our competitors are still "twisting wires together" and using "expensive tape" to hold their connections or using some type of wire connector. Either way, over time, rattles, bumps, and tape drying out ensure these non-soldered connections WILL (not might) come apart. Being that they are related to your vehicles ignition system, this is the day your vehicle does not start, ends up on a tow truck with expensive mechanical and tow bills for something that should NEVER happen.

Our team is made up of veteran installers with 15 - 20+ years of experience.

4. Technological Aspects

Every vehicle for the past 10 years, if not dating back to the mid to late 90's, has some type of "Factory Security" system that must be interfaced with in order to allow the Remote Start to work and start the vehicle.

Almost every vehicle built in the past 10 years has a Transponder or a "chip" embedded into the ignition key. That is why when you ask your car dealer how much an additional key is for your vehicle you will often hear $150 to $250 or more per key. GM Keys start at $95 and up. Ford starts at $135 and up. Imports are typically $150 and up. "All in 1" keys, which is the key that also has the Lock and Unlock feature your Keyless Entry as all part of the same key (not a separate remote) are often $250 or more . Smart Keys can be $400 or more. Your key is the identity to your vehicle and the identity of your key must be copied and installed with the Remote Start system in order for it to work. There are 2 ways of doing this. See #5

Push To Start Ignition Systems: We can do them and many shops cannot. They do take quite a bit more labor time and are therefore more expensive.

5. Install: Old School vs. New School

Old School (The way many are others are still installing)

This is the method of installation where you take a key for your vehicle and insert it into an "electronic box" that you will pay approximately an additional $75 for (plus the cost/value of that key). It will go under your dash board along with the remote start unit. When you push the button for the remote start it will "read" the key in the box, and start the vehicle. This is a method that all installers had to use up until about 5 years ago and MANY installers are still using this method today. In some cases (European vehicles) this is still unavoidably required. See #10.

New School (The way Carsmart! installs)

This is the latest and most advanced technology available and it is what we at CarSmart use. It is a data module that "learns" the identity of your vehicle's security and ignition and you DO NOT LOSE A KEY in this process. It is placed under the dash with the remote starter and when you push the button to remote start your vehicle it communicates directly with your vehicles BCM (computer) and allows it to start.
  • This is a much more stable install
  • It is "data to data" connectivity and communication which is critical to our newer vehicles that have such a high level of technology in them
  • It does not require the use/loss of one of your expensive ignition keys
  • It is a much more "secure" install being that a key for your car is not "hidden" in the vehicle
  • We only need 1 key to program the remote start

6. The Right Remote

Many ignition keys today are "all in one" where the Lock and Unlock Keyless Entry feature is all part of the key. The alternative is a separate key with a separate remote.

At CarSmart!, if you have an "all in one key, we give you a small remote with 1 button on it (and we do give you 2 of these remotes) for the Remote Start.

If you have a separate key and a separate remote, we give you a new remote that works not only the Remote Start feature but your Lock & Unlock as well as a power trunk lid (if you have one factory) AT NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE! See #9

7. Quality & History of the Installation Company

We have been in business in this industry as a family since 1964.

Any shop that does not have an experienced team or a good history is questionable.

We have competitors come and go every year. Be careful.

We can provide you customer referrals if you would like.

8. Warranty

Lifetime Warranty is only important if the company you are working with is still around in the future.

We give you lifetime warranty on all Audiovox systematic parts and all of the labor. That means everything but the remotes have a lifetime warranty. Remotes have a 1 year warranty and are not covered if damaged by moisture. Makes sense.

Lifetime warranty = BE CAREFUL! If you hear Lifetime Warranty DON'T ASSUME it covers everything. In most of our competitors shops it is a Lifetime warranty on the PARTS ONLY and in the fine print there is no or a limited labor warranty. YOU WANT A LIFETIME WARRANTY ON LABOR otherwise you will potentially be "paying to fix a bad or faulty install".

9. Standard vs. Optional

Is it included, or is it extra? At CarSmart we believe that you should get all of the things that you WANT and NEED for your car WITHOUT PAYING EXTRA.

CarSmart gives you the Right Remote for your vehicle.
Most other shops give you a 1 button remote regardless of you Keyless Entry design.

CarSmart gives you 2 remotes for every system
Most other shops give you 1 remote and charge you for any additional remotes

CarSmart gives you an "extended range" antenna STANDARD up to 1,000 feet of range
Most other shops give you 400 feet and charge you for the extended range upgrade.

CarSmart gives you a researchable Best of Class Brand in Audiovox.
Shops that use obscure brands that are inexpensive thus cheap and typically have quality issues

CarSmart give you Lifetime Warranty on Parts AND Labor
Most other shops say "Lifetime warranty" and if you don't ask you will find out the hard way that the lifetime warranty applies to the parts only. Therefore you will then be paying to repair a "bad install" and the labor is where all the money is anyway. Be careful.

CarSmart gives you a total price "out the door"
Most other shops have hidden costs, use one of your keys without telling you SPECIFICALLY that they are doing so, and have other costs for modules, keyless entry, tax and warranty charges.

10. Important Considerations

Smart Phone & Cell Phone applications are available BUT you need a Remote Start to use them

There is a fee for the Phone apps as well as an ANNUAL fee, Nominal, but be aware.

If you might want to do a Phone APP later, fine. JUST BE SURE THE REMOTE START YOU BUY IS COMPATIBLE and allows for the Plug & Play upgrade later.

2-WAY Remote Start Systems are available but a base model CANNOT be upgraded to a 2 WAY.

  • You will save a lot of money doing it all at once
  • The Alarm and Remote Start will work properly with one another IF all one unit
  • A separate alarm can stop a Remote Start from working, just doing its job.
  • A Remote Start can set off an armed Alarm, again, just doing its job.


  • This is where the remote start is ADDED to your FACTORY REMOTES. Sounds like a good idea, right? Until you realize that the RANGE is LIMITED to how far away your Factory Keyless Entry works, which is not far. You will walk half way to your car before it gets the Remote Start signal. What's the point? We'll give you the right remote. Don't add it on. The FCC limits how far the Vehicle Manufacturers Factory Keyless Entry Range can be and it is NOT far. They say 200 feet. Reality, 50 feet, 20 feet? Our industry offers either Extended Range or Unlimited Range with the phone apps.

Factory Remote Starters. THEIR RANGE IS NOT FAR. That is our customers #1 complaint. Our customers' comments who have purchased a factory remote start is that they will never do it again.
  • You pay as much or MORE for them than an aftermarket system like ours AND you get a limited 3 year / 36K Mile warranty with it when our warranty is Lifetime and no range = frustrating.

The fact is that companies advertising Remote Starters for $150 or $199 are not being truthful. If you have a vehicle that is about 15 years old or older, yes this is the right price AND you will still NOT get keyless entry in most places.

Truth is, most vehicles today, once you get all of the right products, the right installer, the right warranty, the right acclimation to your vehicles technology the right price for a Remote Start around Chicagoland is about $400. Again, there are many upgrades and this does not include some of the higher-end vehicles, especially European such as VW, Mercedes Benz, BMW, and others like them. These vehicles can easily be in the range of $1,000 to $1,500 AND / OR still need to embed a key into the system and these keys typically run $400-500.